Quincy Jones on How Process Brings Beauty to Music
Tuesday Quotes are short explorations of music, life, and the daily endeavor of practicing classical guitar. Find more here. Enjoy!
“The process is the most beautiful part.”
In 2010, the Serbian artist Marina Abramovic, brought her show “The Artist is Present” to MOMA.
In this performance piece, she sat at a small table in the middle of an otherwise empty room. People could enter and sit across from her.
No words were spoken. She simply sat and met eyes with the person. She stayed completely present.
People broke down. They cried. They became agitated. They had all sorts of reactions. And throughout, Abramovic sat quiet and present, allowing them their reactions.
The beauty of this piece was in realtime. The process was the art. There was no goal, no intended response. The effect was to recognize that we are human, together with other humans.
Likewise, in musical performance, the human element is part of the show.
When a player is completely present and engaged with the music, we see it. We hear it. We feel it. We recognize that their thinking mind has quieted.
In this way, watching a musician can be similar to sitting across from Marina Abramovic. The world strips away and we are left psychologically naked, open to the current experience.
And as players, at any level, we can apply this level of attention and engagement in every practice. Indeed, this becomes a practice of its own.
Even if we do not play every note as intended, even if we flub or falter, we can remain with and in the moment.
We can embrace the means, and let the end be what it will. Instead of trying to play a complete piece, we can share a process. Each movement, each note a new offering.
Hi, I’m Allen Mathews.
I started as a folk guitarist, then fell in love with classical guitar in my 20’s. Despite a lot of practice and schooling, I still couldn’t get my music to flow well. I struggled with excess tension. My music sounded forced. And my hands and body were often sore. I got frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward. Then, over the next decade, I studied with two other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, and one on the musical (he was a concert pianist). In time, I came to discover a new set of formulas and movements. These brought new life and vitality to my practice. Now I help guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.
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